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Upstart Aims to Become the Biggest and Best Technology Employer in Ohio

Wed Jan 08 2020
Upstart employee looking at his laptop

Upstart is the first lending platform to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to price credit and automate the borrowing process. Founded by former Google employees, more than two-thirds of loans originated through Upstart are entirely automated.

The company is innovative, tech-driven and holds one of the industry’s highest consumer ratings. It’s no wonder Upstart encountered triple-digit revenue growth in 2018 alone. And growth isn’t slowing down for Upstart, as its Founder and CEO Dave Girouard believes that ML in lending will reshape the banking and broader credit industry over the next 10 years.

Upstart had great success in the San Francisco Bay Area, but knew it was time to expand its footprint outside of the region. According to a blog post by Girouard, the company wanted its second home to have “a hotbed of incredible talent, a super high quality of life, easy access from the Bay Area, and readily available leadership that could transplant Upstart’s unique DNA to a new setting.”

Although the U.S. has a lot of tech hot spots, Upstart confidently chose Ohio for its second home. The company invested $719,000 in a new R&D center in Columbus and committed to create 257 jobs over the next five years. Out of all of these locations, Upstart clearly saw the advantages that Ohio’s capital will provide.

“Columbus has all of the ingredients necessary to become the next great tech center in the U.S.,” said Grant Schneider, head of Upstart Columbus. Schneider is an Ohio native and Upstart’s leading data scientist, who was tapped to run the new Columbus operations.

The Columbus Talent Pipeline

Ohio’s workforce has been one of the company’s greatest assets since investing. Just seven months after opening its Columbus doors, Upstart has already hired more than 60 employees and signed a lease for new space in a 15,000-square-foot location on High Street in the city’s vibrant Short North neighborhood.

“In addition to the state’s many universities, The Ohio State University is world-class and full of bright students for us to hire,” Schneider said. “Columbus specifically offers a great quality of life with affordable housing and easy commutes. It’s a diverse community with a lot of amazing talent. Plus, this area is already a hub for many financial companies, so it’s perfect for Upstart and our leading AI lending platform.”

Schneider said the company has been able to hire highly qualified people in engineering, data science, and operations, who want to work for a high-growth and mission-driven startup.

Ohio’s Financial Services Strength

With the sixth-largest financial services sector in the nation and 220,000 sector employees, Ohio is also home to three major bank headquarters, including Huntington Bancshares, KeyBank and Fifth Third Bank.

“The region is filled with amazing talent, especially people with financial services experience and excellent technical skills,” Schneider said.

In addition to that workforce, the financial services sector presents opportunities for Upstart partnerships that can bring about mutual benefits.

“Upstart’s business is designed not to compete with banks but to partner with them, which is why we recently launched Powered by Upstart, a white-label solution for banks and other lenders,” said Schneider. “Our AI platform allows banks and other lenders to use our white-labeled lending application to power their own lending programs.”

Finally, JobsOhio and its regional partner Columbus 2020 worked with Upstart during the investment process, saving the company time and reducing the pressure of investing across the country.

“It’s been great to work with the JobsOhio team in this process,” said Schneider. “The team has made many connections for us with other companies in the area, all of whom have been collaborative and not competitive, which has been refreshing. They’ve also put us in touch with the right people at The Ohio State University and in the broader community, which has saved us countless hours of searching.”

Upstart’s investment in Ohio is a testament to the state’s appeal to disruptive, high-tech companies looking to grow, lead and succeed. JobsOhio and its partners are committed to maintaining a close relationship with Upstart as it grows in Ohio.

“We’re thrilled to hire talented and passionate people who can fuel our growth and expansion as we continue to scale rapidly, and central Ohio has demonstrated that it has many such people!”
Grant Schneider
Head of Upstart Columbus
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